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Miso Soup and Mackerel: Japan’s Space Agency Picks New Menu for Astronauts

TOKYO - While astronauts may get to experience the thrill of space travel and unrivaled views of the Earth, few people would envy their dining options. But Japan’s space agency is attempting to change all that with the announcement of a new space menu, including miso soup, keema curry with wagyu beef, and canned mackerel flavored with soy sauce. The food, kept in vacuum packs and prepared by adding water, is intended to "help improve the nutritional balance of astronauts, alleviate their mental stresses, and enhance their performance," the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said.

Of 108 suggestions submitted by food firms last year, JAXA selected 33 items, bringing the total available to its spacewomen and men to 61. The previous list was restricted to items such as white rice and various types of ramen noodles. Any suggestions had to meet strict criteria, such as storable at room temperature for 18 months and including less than one gram of sodium. The last Japanese astronaut in space was Koichi Wakata, who completed 188 days aboard the International Space Station on May 14.

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- Arata Yamamoto and Alexander Smith